Japanese rice and TPP

2010/12/21
--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 20
EDITORIAL: Japanese rice and TPP
TPPと農業―衰退モデル脱却の好機だ

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's decision to consider Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has provoked acrimony over whether to protect Japan's export industries or its agriculture.
 守るべきは輸出産業か、それとも国内農業か。菅直人首相が表明した「環太平洋パートナーシップ協定」(TPP)への参加検討の方針が、そんな対立を生んでいる。

But this is not an either-or issue.
だがこれは、二者択一の問題ではない。

The TPP is a multilateral pact to create a free trade zone by eliminating tariffs between the member countries. Nine countries, including the United States, are negotiating the agreement.
 関税撤廃で自由貿易圏をつくろうという構想がTPPである。米国など9カ国が推進している。

Joining the TPP offers a great opportunity for Japan to catch up with some rival trade powers in the race to strike free trade agreements (FTAs).
日本にとって、そこに参加することは自由貿易協定(FTA)戦略の出遅れを一気に取り戻すチャンスである。

Japan should try to figure out a way to ensure the long-term viability of its agriculture without missing out on this opportunity.
そうする中で農業との両立をさぐるのが筋だ。



Agricultural reform is key
■改革こそ両立の道

When South Korea's free trade agreements with the United States and Europe come into force next year, Japanese export industries will find themselves at a serious disadvantage against their South Korean rivals.
 韓国が米欧とのFTAを来年発効させれば、日本の輸出産業は韓国企業に比べて不利になる。

Japan's participation in the TPP pact would offset the negative effects. It would also help ease the pressure on Japanese companies to shift operations overseas.
TPP参加はその不利を打ち消す。日本企業の海外移転圧力を和らげる効果もある。

As a resource-poor country, Japan has no choice but to stake its survival on trade. But food security is also vital for safeguarding the well-being of the people. Japan cannot give up either trade or agriculture.
 資源に乏しい日本は通商国家として生きるしか道はない。さりとて国民生活を守るには食糧の安全保障も重要だ。いずれも切り捨てられない。

The key to solving this knotty question is agricultural reform.
 難問を解くカギは農業改革にある。

The farm ministry and agricultural cooperatives argue that Japan's participation in the TPP would deliver a devastating blow by bringing down its crucial protective wall--high tariffs. But Japanese agriculture should try to secure its survival and improve its future prospects through reform.
 農林水産省や農協は、TPP参加で高関税という防護壁を失えば、「国内農業は壊滅的打撃を受ける」と主張する。だが、改革による生き残りと再生への道を歩むべきではないか。

Since long before the TPP issue came to the fore, Japanese agriculture has been in urgent need of reform. The average age of farmers in Japan is 66, and there is a serious shortage of young people willing to pursue a career in agriculture. Japanese agriculture could collapse in 10 years or so.
 TPP問題が浮上するずっと前から、農業は改革の必要に迫られてきた。働き手が平均66歳と高齢化し、後継者不足も深刻で、あと10年もすれば国内農業は自壊しかねない。

One of the main factors putting Japanese agriculture in its current miserable state is the so-called acreage reduction program, which has been the main pillar of Japan's agricultural policy. It is the government's program to maintain rice prices through production adjustments, and it involves reducing the amount of land devoted to rice cultivation in response to declining demand for rice.
 こうなった要因の一つが農政の基軸だった減反政策だ。米価維持のためにコメの需要減に合わせて水田の作付面積を減らす官製の生産調整策である。

Seven trillion yen ($83.5 billion) of taxpayer money has been spent for the program in 40 years, but the average income of farmers has halved in the past two decades.
40年間で総額7兆円の税金が投じられたが農業所得は20年前から半減した。

Its greatest harm is that it has hampered the efforts of well-motivated full-time farmers to become financially independent through ingenuity and expansion of their operations.
 減反の最大の罪は、創意工夫と大規模化で自立しようと努力する主業農家の足を引っ張ってきたことだ。

Food security under threat
■危うい食糧確保

Under the program, annual production quotas are decided on the basis of actual rice sales in the previous year.
 減反政策ではコメの販売実績によって翌年の生産枠が決まる。

The new program to prop up the income of farmers with direct cash payments, which was introduced this year by the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan as its key policy initiative, is making things worse.
Under the program, the amounts of cash that farmers receive are based on their production quotas. This has prompted agricultural cooperatives across the nation to try to increase rice sales by cutting prices in efforts to secure larger output quotas, thereby accelerating the falls of rice prices.
しかも今年から始まった民主党政権の目玉政策、農家への戸別所得補償制度では枠が大きいほど補償額も増える。このため各地の農協がコメを安売りしてでも枠の拡大を競うようになり、米価の下落に拍車をかけている。

The situation is tougher for full-time farmers than for part-time farmers who get much of their income outside of farming.
 こうなると、主な所得が他にある兼業農家より、農業で稼いでいる主業農家の方が苦しくなる。

The income support program is hindering consolidation of farming land and promoting the division of land into smaller lots.
 戸別所得補償が農地の集約を阻害し、細切れ化を促すという弊害も出てきた。

Since the program covers all farmers selling rice, small farmers who were on the way out of the business are now rushing to terminate the lease of their farmland to others to receive cash from the government.
すべての販売農家を対象にしたために、退出するはずの零細農家も補償を得ようと、貸していた農地の「貸しはがし」に走る傾向がある。

This is making it even more difficult to promote cost reduction through expanding the scale of farming.
 これでは日本の農業の大規模化によるコスト削減はままならない。

Japan is struggling to curb rice production to prevent a glut. But the global outlook for the future of agriculture is quite different.
 コメ余りを避けようと、政策的に生産を抑えこむのに四苦八苦する日本だが、世界に目を転ずると、別の光景が広がる。

The world population is projected to grow to 9.1 billion in 2050 from the current 6.9 billion. Steadily growing demand for grain is certain to remain on a sharp upward trajectory in the coming years.
現在69億人の世界人口は2050年に91億人まで増える。増加の一途をたどる穀物需要は、今後もまちがいなく膨張する。

Fortunately, the kind of acute food shortage predicted by the British economist Thomas Malthus in his "An Essay on the Principle of Population" has not become reality, at least so far.
 経済学者マルサスが「人口論」で予言した深刻な食糧不安は、幸いこれまでは無用の心配だった。

That's because cultivated acreage has been increased steadily while technological innovations for fertilizers and other means have raised production per unit area.
耕地面積を広げ、肥料などの技術革新で単位収量を増やせたからだ。

But what about the future? Even small changes in the supply-demand balance often cause sharp rises and falls in the grain markets. It is not rare either for food-exporting countries to cause international concerns about food supplies by trying to ensure sufficient supplies at home.
 これからはどうか。穀物市況はわずかな需給の変化でも激変する。輸出国が自国供給を優先して、国際不安を呼ぶことも珍しくない。

Three years ago, India and China imposed restrictions on their grain exports. This past summer, Russia temporarily halted its wheat exports, creating a stir among importing countries.
3年前にはインド、中国などの穀物輸出制限、今夏もロシアが小麦の一時輸出停止で輸入国に波紋を広げた。

Many industrialized countries have been raising their grain production capacity in response to concerns about food shortages. That has been possible because of their export-promotion policies.
 多くの先進国は食糧不安に備え、穀物生産力を高めてきた。それを可能にしたのは農産物の輸出政策である。

Germany, for instance, has achieved complete self-sufficiency in wheat and dairy products and is exporting the surpluses.
たとえばドイツは小麦や乳製品で完全自給を超過する分を輸出している。

Japan has not taken that approach and has been cutting down its output. As a result, Japan's food self-sufficiency ratio has fallen to 40 percent from nearly 80 percent half a century ago.
 日本はその道を選ばず生産量を減らし、半世紀前に80%近くあった自給率はいま40%だ。

A breed-improvement project to increase rice production has long been a taboo at agricultural experimental stations across the nation. This is an agricultural policy that is bucking the global trend.
全国各地の農業試験所では、コメの収量を増やすための品種改良はずっと御法度だった。世界の潮流とかけ離れた政策である。

End failed farm policy
■失敗農政の大転換を

Japanese rice, known for its high quality, has the potential to find customers among the swelling ranks of rich Asian consumers.
 本来、高品質で定評のあるコメは今後ふくれあがるアジアの富裕層向けに輸出できる潜在力がある。

In a belated move, the farm ministry reached an agreement in early December with a Chinese state enterprise on Japanese rice exports to China. There is great hope for growth in Japanese rice exports to the fast-growing neighbor.
遅ればせながら農水省は今月上旬、中国の国営企業とコメの対中輸出について覚書を交わした。今後、大いに期待できる。

It is hard to believe that scrapping the prohibitive 778-percent tariff imposed on rice imports to open the door to foreign rice would drive Japanese rice out of the market.
 778%というコメの高関税をなくし輸入米に門戸を開いても、日本のコメが国内市場から締め出されるようなことは考えにくい。

The price differences between Japanese and foreign rice often cited by opponents of rice import liberalization have narrowed significantly. The price of rice produced in Japan is about 13,000 yen per 60 kilograms, while the price of rice imported from China, for instance, exceeds 10,000 yen, three times higher than it was 10 years ago.
反対論者が反対理由に挙げる内外価格差は接近してきた。国産米価格は60キロ当たり約1万3千円だが、中国産米の輸入価格も10年前の3倍となって1万円超だ。

Some large-scale farmers are distancing themselves from the stance of agricultural cooperatives, which are dead set against opening the rice market to imports.
 大規模農家の中には「絶対反対」の農協と一線を画す動きもある。

A group of agricultural production corporations and large rice growers in Niigata Prefecture, a rice production center in Japan, has urged the government to swiftly make clear how Japan's participation in the TPP would change its agricultural policy over the long term.
コメどころ新潟県の農業生産法人や大規模農家らの団体は、TPP参加に伴って中長期的な農政がどう変わるのか、早急に示すよう政府に求めたいという。

"Simply opposing the TPP doesn't help revive Japanese agriculture," says one representative of the group.
「TPPに反対しているだけでは、日本の農業の再生はもはやできないからだ」と団体代表の一人は話す。

The lack of a clear vision for the future of Japanese agriculture discourages young and highly motivated people from entering the business. The acreage reduction program, which runs counter to the efforts to brighten the future prospects of Japanese agriculture, should be abolished.
 展望が描けなければ、若く有望な後継者は入ってこない。それに逆行する減反政策は廃止すべきだ。

The direct payment program should also be revised to focus on supporting well-motivated full-time farmers from paying cash to all farmers selling rice.
戸別所得補償もすべての販売農家を対象にする制度から、意欲ある主業農家に絞った直接支払い制度に変える必要がある。

Japan should outgrow the defeatist notion that agriculture is victimized by policy efforts to support export industries.
 「農業が輸出産業の犠牲になる」という発想を乗り越えたい。

If Japanese agriculture is reinvented to make its products competitive in the global market, there is nothing for Japanese farmers to fear about trade liberalization.
グローバル市場を相手に日本農業を再設計すれば、貿易自由化はけっして怖くない。
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2010-12-22 05:00 | 英字新聞

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